Boy + Girl + Army + e-Harmony = Captain and Mrs. Butters! This is what we're up to. Observations, opinions, events, images, and more.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


They used to be about planning vacations, buying houses, and writing books.

Now they're about final countdowns, surprise homecomings, and the warm body I miss sleeping next to.

Funny how perspective can change.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dear Unit FRG:

I understand the usefulness of Facebook as a way to disseminate information. However, next time you might want to think twice before posting that there will be a redeployment ceremony within the next 24 hours when it is the case that
A) No email was sent regarding said redeployment ceremony and
B) The ceremony only involves a small fraction of the unit's deployed soldiers.

A spouse whose heart swelled with irrational hope while scrolling through her newsfeed, only to experience equally irrational crushing disappointment when she realized her husband wasn't involved.

P.S.--I'd also like to thank my husband's company FRG leader for finally sending out the first email I've received during this deployment, excluding the generic ones from the FRSA.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Apparently, the Army turns me into a toddler.

As always, I feel encouraged and honestly humbled by the responses to my angsty posts. Reading back over the last one, which was typed and published in an emotional hurry, I am struck by how whiny the last bit is. Looking at my words from a calmer place, I have realized that on some level, I’m expecting gentleness and sympathy—maybe even a touch of pity—from others because of my “situation.” I definitely haven’t been prepared for callous and/or uncaring responses I have received from time to time.

Those of you who pointed out that I have a right to my feelings, whatever they are, are absolutely correct. I’m going to keep that in mind going forward. What I don’t want to do is be a victim.

In general, I’ve noticed that the Army brings out my childish side. I guess that makes sense—in my adult life, I’ve never felt, or been, this powerless. As a military spouse I don’t get to decide where I live, how long I’m there, or (the real biggie) whether my husband is home with me or in a war zone. So yes, in some ways, I feel like a little kid whose life is being run by a parent, and I find myself coping by whining, But that’s not faiiiiir. Why me? Woe is me! Poor, poor me. Everybody, look at how much my life sucks compared to yours.

What I need to remember is that as an adult, I have access to healthier coping mechanisms. So somebody, please give me a metaphorical slap upside the head if you see me wallowing in an extended pity party. Save me from myself!

From now on, my goal is to acknowledge that yes, reality does suck more than usual. The extended absence of a spouse is a big deal, and it’s normal to be affected by that. I don’t have to pretend that everything is okay when it’s not. I may even set a timer when I’m feeling upset and give myself permission to rant, rave, cry, and otherwise fall apart until it goes off. But after the timer buzzes, I want to kick the victim mentality to the curb. I can still miss Spike and acknowledge that a major part of my life is out of whack without whining about it.

(That doesn’t mean I won’t be quieter, grouchier, or even more sarcastic than usual. I am a grown woman trying to be mentally and emotionally healthier, not a saint!)

As an old friend (with whom I need to reconnect…start working on that, minions! ;-) ) reminded me in her comment, I am still one fully-fledged person within a two-person team. There can still be growth and happiness and fulfillment and interest in my life, even during a deployment.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Depolyment Update #1: Am I normal?

Several people have asked me why I don’t update my blog frequently anymore. The short answer is, after Spike’s career course, I have rarely found Army life to be amusing. And I try to keep the bitter/angry/frustrated posts to a minimum.

The longer answer also includes the fact that I’m writing a lot more for work than I used to (I work as a copywriter/ghostwriter, and create material ranging from whole books to press releases to blog posts for my firm’s clients). Usually, the last thing I want to do after work is stare at the computer screen and keep typing. That’s also why my former plans to write a trashy romance novel during deployment fell by the wayside! For now, I prefer to focus on the writing that contributes to my paycheck.

To update those who are curious, Spike ended up deploying in mid-May after a few false starts. At the beginning of June, I packed up my Mini Cooper with enough luggage to see me through the summer, shoehorned the dog in too, and drove to my ancestral home of North Carolina. I’ll be staying with family here through the end of August (probably).

The upsides: I’m not in Kansas, of which I am not a fan. I can go into my actual office every day instead of telecommuting (read: my days now include forced social interaction and I am not a hermit). I can drive an hour or so on the weekends and visit good friends who live nearby. I’m mostly enjoying the time with my parents and grandmother. But I know that I’ll be ready to go back to Kansas and live “my” life by the end of the summer. It kind of feels like I have gone back in time to my pre-marriage self right now—except I am married, which means I don’t quite “fit” into that prior life, and it’s not as comfortable as it used to be.

Of course, changing my geographical location hasn’t changed the facts that:
  • Deployment SUCKS
  • I miss Spike A LOT
  • Time is moving at a glacial pace and needs to speed up
I’ve heard a lot of good metaphors for deployment, and now I’ll add mine to the pile:

You know that feeling you have when you wake up from a wonderful, awesome, transcendentally great dream? For a little while after you get out of bed, before the dream fades, you feel a mixture of sadness, frustration, and dread because you just want to be back in that fantastic dream, and you know that whatever your day holds can’t be as good as what you just experienced. For me, that’s deployment. A constant sinking feeling because reality is just lacking. Sometimes the feeling is overwhelming; mostly it just lurks on the fringes of whatever I’m doing to some degree.

I really am trying to live my life while Spike is gone. I go to work and spend time with my family in the evenings. On the weekends, I go visiting and crash friends’ guest beds (highlight so far was attending a Wing-Fest and eating lots of buffalo wings). I’ve completed a few art projects, including crafts for Spike’s care packages and a portrait of my friend’s in-laws that she’s giving her FIL as a birthday gift. And I’m looking into the possibility of taking a few fiddle lessons over the summer—currently making inquiries from a few local instructors.

All in all, I think I’ve done a pretty decent job of establishing a routine. But I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not my “old self.” (Is anyone with a deployed spouse?) I’m never quite as happy as I used to be. I’m not unfailingly positive. Sometimes it’s a struggle to go through the motions. I feel “blue” and hollow a lot. And I do have bad days during which I’m grouchy, negative, and just can’t summon up a smile.

That said, I don’t wallow. I do my utmost to shed any tears in private. I don’t blabber on about how much I miss my husband to everyone in earshot. (I get the feeling that nobody really wants to hear it.) And yet—here’s my rant!—anytime I am feeling down, a shocking number of people tell me to “try harder.” To “get over it.” To remember that “this is about Spike, not about me.” Even to “be less dependent on Spike for my happiness.”

Maybe this is because I’m not currently living in a military community? I guess many of the people around me genuinely don’t get it? Still, it’s frustrating. I want to shake them and scream, Hey! My husband is in a war zone for almost a year! How long have you been apart from your spouse?!? This IS a big deal, for both of us! How could I NOT be affected? I love that man so, so much, and OF COURSE he is now an integral part of my happiness! I can’t just conveniently forget about him and the role he plays in my life, nor would I ever want to!

Women (and men) who have been there, am I overreacting? Do I need to just suck it up and bury any evidence that life has lost its shine while my husband is in Afghanistan? Or is this normal and okay? I’m asking honestly here, as this is my first deployment as a spouse. Thanks!

I'll end on a positive note. Spike is on a larger base, and for $65 a month, has Internet in his room. So usually, we get to FaceTime or Skype for a few minutes before he goes to bed. I know how fortunate that makes me as the spouse of a deployed servicemember. And believe me, our talks are the highlight of every day. Wherever in the world he happens to be, whether it's in Afghanistan or next to me on the couch, I am such a lucky woman to be Spike's wife.